Estill County Schools
Jeff Saylor, Superintendent
RE: Estill County School Safety Concerns and New Policy Changes
September 1, 2022
Students, Parents, Community and Staff,
I want to thank our parents and community for your continued support for our schools and district. The last few years have been very difficult due to Covid-19 and the restrictions we have faced in order to protect the safety and well-being of our students, their families and our staff. Our hope is that we can return to some type of normal operational procedures this school year. However, what we used to think of as normal no longer exists in our current state.
Due to the increased violence we are seeing across this country, it saddens me that we now have to reconsider activities that schools have hosted during the school day. Our number one priority has to be the safety and well-being of our students and staff. While we will never be able to alleviate all threats schools face across this state, we do have to rethink what events take place in our schools during normal operational hours from 7:30am to 3:30pm. All of us have seen the news stories about school violence across this nation and state, and these events happen at all levels, elementary, middle and high. We can no longer bury our head in the sand and think that “this will not happen in Estill County!”
After careful and thoughtful review of past practices, new safety training throughout the summer months, collaboration with Jon Akers, Executive Director for the Kentucky Center for School Safety, and in consultation with our Board Attorney, the Estill County School District is implementing new safety protocols to strengthen the level of school security in our district. Current suggested practice for school systems across Kentucky is to reduce the exposure of students to nonregulated visitors during school hours.
To improve safety across the Estill County School District, there will no longer be large parent, guardian and community events happening during normal school hours. In the past, we have opened our doors to parents, guardians, and other family members to attend events such as: breakfast and lunch, holiday meals, class parties, and parent workshops, just to name a few. In an effort to ensure the safety of our students and staff, these special events may still be held, but must occur after normal school hours. This change in safety procedures will allow more opportunities for families to participate in school sponsored functions without having to miss them due to work and other day time scheduling issues.
Since these events and activities will be held after school hours, families will be able to make the decision about their participation. New safety protocols will be implemented and followed at these after-school events as well. Families and students participating in these events will enter at a single access point and participants will be required to sign in. This procedure will provide school staff with necessary information needed for parent participation data and safety protocols. We will also work with the Estill County Sherriff and Irvine PD to provide increased security at these events.
Finally, we do understand there are other larger public events that occur in our district. These events include but are not limited to sports, extracurricular activities, prom, graduation etc. During these events, security will be provided by our School Resource Officers and/or local and state law enforcement. Everyone attending these events should be observant of their surroundings and if something does not appear to be right, report it immediately to a school official or law enforcement.
I know some may see this as too restrictive, but our principals and staff are committed to making sure that our students and families continue to have opportunities to be a part of their local schools. These opportunities will be scheduled after school hours. As always, if you have questions or concerns, please feel free to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call me at (606) 717-0222. You can also reach out to Stephen Willis, our Safety Director at email@example.com or call him at (606) 726-3079.